The CAHS is in the final stages of developing a new website.

We invite you to Click Here to visit now to view the new site and take advantage of the new features.

Once all relevant material from the old website has been transfered to the new website,
typing will automatically bring you to the new website.

Also visit the Newsflash page at to read about the latest developments.

Thanks for your patience, support, and interest!



CAHS Convention 2016

2016 convention

The 53rd annual convention of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society will take place in Winnipeg 1 - 5 June 2016.

Wednesday 1 June - Meet and Greet at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, 7 pm;
Thursday, Friday, Saturday - speakers, tours, annual general meeting, and awards banquet;
Sunday 5 June - optional activity to be announced.

The venue will be the Viscount Gort hotel. We have arranged a convention rate of $120 per night for those who wish to stay at the hotel. Further details will be announced as they are confirmed.

We invite proposals for papers to be presented at the convention. The call for presentations is available here. Submissions must be received by 1 March 2016.

We are seeking sponsorship for the convention. If you know of a company that might be willing to sponsor us, please let us know as soon as possible.

For more information, please contact the convention committee at

We hope to see you in Winnipeg, recently named as one of National Geographic Traveler's Best Trips of 2016!


Russ Norman

A dedicated Canadian proponent of homebuilt aircraft

By Gord McNulty

This article is reprinted from the CAHS Journal, Volume 41, Number 1, Spring 2003.

Like many members of the CAHS, Russell G.Norman of Hamilton "caught the aeroplane bug early" and has never been cured. Best known for his lifelong accomplishments and keen interest in homebuilt aircraft, Russ has enjoyed a remarkable career in aviation, spanning more than 50 years. To describe Russ as a versatile aircraft owner, pilot and skilled Mr Fix-It around aeroplanes is an understatement.

russ norman

Russ Norman brings his EAA Biplane, CF-RFG, in tight for the capable camera of the author's late father, J. McNULTY. 

Russ has flown more than 40 different types of aircraft, including six gliders in the 50s. He has owned different types, including his latest pride and joy, a beautiful all-metal Bushby Mustang II homebuilt. Russ, CAHS member 608, played a prominent role in the growth of homebuilt aviation with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) after the Second World War. In fact, he made history. Flying his EAA Biplane CF-RFG, Russ made the cover of EAA's May 1965 Sport Aviation magazine in a Jack McNulty air-to-air photograph. It was the first time a Canadian pilot and aircraft had been given this prestigious recognition. Russ also has the distinction of having attended every EAA annual fly-in convention since 1958.

If there is a secret to his natural affinity for aviation, it lies in his exceptional mechanical aptitude and a facility for working with his hands. Russ has a confidence and a knack for adapting to changing circumstances that have carried him through many challenges, including the loss of his job in the cancellation of the Arrow at A.V. Roe Canada, and the occasional dicey moment in the air when things didn't follow the script.

Born in Burlington in 1928, Russ was raised in Hamilton. He recalled that he "always wanted to be a flyer." His first recollection of aeroplanes was at the old Hamilton Municipal Airport in east-end Hamilton, officially opened on 6 June 1929. Russ became involved in Junior Air Cadets, which operated out of a church. They met once a week, and built model aeroplanes. Cadet Norman won an award. It turned out to be his first flight, a ride in a J-3, CF-BUG, flown by a chap named Ernie Guzzo. The date was 11 February 1943.

Russ subsequently took the sheet-metal course at Hamilton Technical Institute. A school friend, Roy Byrne, had been flying out of the Cub Flying School at the airport. In 1946, he took Russ to the airport to get acquainted with the school. On 1 December 1946, Russ enjoyed his first instructional flight in a J-3, CF-EFO, flown by Frank Hawkridge. Russ had four hours and 45 minutes of dual instruction before his first solo flight, in a J-3, CF-EEO, on 29 March 1947. He acquired his licence on 11 December 1948, on a Cub L4B (Observer) CF-EGO, then began to check out on various aircraft including a Fleet Canuck, CF-DPX, and a PA-11 Cub Special CF-FTE. In May 1949, after the Cub Flying School folded, Russ went to Peninsula Air Services, also based at the airport. Peninsula had various Piper aircraft, from the J-3 to the PA-12 Super Cruiser, Cessnas, Cornells and other aircraft. Russ checked out on a J-3 on floats, (out of the Hamilton Sky Harbour Air Services seaplane base) two PA-12s, CF-EUX and FIB; and a Tiger Moth.



As 2015 draws to a close, I thank each and everyone of you for your dedication and support for the Canadian Aviation Historical Society.

Please enjoy and share our December 2015 edition of the CAHS National Newsletter with all your friends and family this holiday season.

On behalf of the Executive, Board Members and myself, I want to encourage your passion for Canadian aviation history and hope that you continue enjoying this newsletter and all the other benefits of membership in the CAHS.

May this Christmas season be filled with health, happiness, and clear blue skies. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year. All the best in 2016.

Gary Williams
National President
Canadian Aviation Historical Society


Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association Cheque Presentation

Paul Hayes, of the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (and CHAA’s newest board member), presents Pat Hanna, President of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, with a cheque for $500 at the October 17th members briefing. Thank you to the good folks at CAHS!

cheque presentation photo terry scott 545

From left to right: Pat Hanna and Paul Hayes

Photo by Terry Scott


New Executive Director at Alberta Aviation Museum

Lauzon photo

Jean Lauzon, who has served as Acting Executive Director of the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton since February, has been confirmed in her appointment as Executive Director. The Museum is located on Kingsway Avenue in Canada's last double-wide double-long hangar built during the Second World War to serve the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The museum is home to over a dozen aviation-related organizations and is developing plans for displays and expansion in the years ahead.

For full details about Jean's appointment and information about the Museum, click here.


Colonel (retired) Chris Hadfield invested into the Order of Canada

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Governor General David Johnston inducts Colonel (retired) Chris Hadfield, a former fighter pilot with the RCAF and Canada’s first commander of the International Space Station, as an Officer of the Order of Canada on November 18, 2015. PHOTO: Sergeant Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall © OSGG, 2015

News Article / November 19, 2015

From Rideau Hall

Governor General David Johnston presided over an Order of Canada investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall, on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. The Governor General, who is chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order, bestowed the honour on 12 Officers and 33 Members.

Among the inductees was Colonel (retired) Chris Hadfield, a former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot and former astronaut who was the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in the grade of Officer; his citation reads as follows:

Colonel Chris Austin Hadfield, O.C., O.Ont., M.S.C., C.D. (Ret'd)
Sarnia, Ontario

Chris Hadfield has inspired Canadians to reach new heights. His childhood dream of becoming an astronaut led him to study and train as an engineer, and then to a distinguished career as an Air Force test pilot before he was selected for the Canadian astronaut corps. Over the next 20 years, he flew on three missions to space, and served as chief capsule communicator for 25 space shuttle missions. In 2012, he became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station, where his gift for sharing the wonders of space flight captured the global imagination and created renewed interest in scientific discovery.

For a complete listing of all those who were inducted into the Order of Canada during the November 18th ceremony, along with their citations, please visit the Governor General’s website.

"We can learn a lot from you, because despite your many unique pursuits, I can think of more than a few traits that you share," said the Governor General during the ceremony. "You relentlessly strive for excellence. You work tirelessly at your chosen craft or profession. You eagerly seize opportunities. You know there are no shortcuts to success.

"And not least, you’ve taken to heart the motto of the Order of Canada: Desiderantes meliorem patriam — 'They Desire a Better Country'. As a result, each of you has helped to create stronger communities, a better country and a better world."

The Order of Canada was created in 1967, during Canada’s centennial year, to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Since its creation, more than 6,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order.

Click here to read the full article.


Christmas Gift Giving

CAHS 2016 Calendar

2016 calendarThe CAHS has partnered with talented Canadian aviation artists to produce a stunning full colour 2016 calendar. We have brought the calendar back just in time for Christmas!

To order your calendar, click here.


Special Book Offer

Just in time for Christmas, the CAHS is offering the sale of two books about Air Marshal Gus Edwards. Suzanne Edwards wrote about her father's life, from a self-educated trapper boy to becoming one of the most senior officers in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. "Gus: From Trapper Boy to Air Marshal" is a 234 page paperback that also includes black-and-white photographs. Suzanne also wrote a version to inspire children. "The Adventures of a Trapper Boy" is a 47 page paperback edition that has both photos and illustrations. These books would make great gifts for both adults and children this holiday!

book offer

The CAHS is offering discounted rates that also include the shipping costs to all Canadian addresses.

  • Adventures of a Trapper Boy - Price $10
  • Gus: From Trapper Boy to Air Marshal - Price $17
  • Combo Pack Special: 1 Copy Adventures + 1 Copy Gus - Price $25
  • Combo Pack Special: 2 Copies Adventures + 2 Copies Gus - $45

For our customers from the United States and around the world, please contact the CAHS at with your address for international shipping quotes.

For arrival in time for Christmas, order by December 16.

These books will continue to be available after Christmas as well, so please check back as often as you need gifts.

For more information, or to place an order, please click here.


Some other great ideas for the aviation buff in your life from the Royal Canadian Mint:

british commonwealth training planBritish Commonwealth Air Training Plan

1 oz. Fine Silver Coin – The Canadian Home Front: British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) – Mintage: 7,500 (2016)

Click here to view.


battle of britainBattle of Britain

Battle of Britain Silver Coin – Battlefront Series 1 oz. (2015)

Click here to view.




I believe that in the reply to the 2nd question under Canadian Aviation Moments, the reference to "Long Beach" should have been "Long Branch".

Jim Wallace

Editor's note: Thank you Jim - we have corrected the online version.


We hope you enjoyed answering the Canadian Aviation Moments in November. We encourage readers to send in their responses to the Canadian Aviation Moments questions at: Your responses will be included in the following month's newsletter. Here are the correct answers:

Question: What aircraft, from the Imperial Gift, were experimented with in adapting World War I war-time photographic reconnaissance methods to mapping in Canada?

Answer: “In the autumn of 1920, an Avro 504K (serial uncertain) and a Bristol F-2B (G-CYBC), flying from the Rockcliffe Rifle Ranges, experimented in adapting war-time photographic reconnaissance methods to mapping in Canada. The Avro proved unsuitable (low ceiling, vibration) and the Bristol was too sensitive at the controls to be a good photographic aircraft, but the concept was considered sound, provided better machines could be employed: the D.H.4 and D.H.9 were considered best candidates.”

Source: CAHS Journal – Vol.47 No.1 – Spring 2009 – Page 30

Question: When and who established the original Snowbirds team in 1971? The establishment of the Snowbirds was connected with the Golden Centennaires in at least 2 ways. What were the two links between the Centennaires and the Snowbirds?

Answer: “Colonel O.B. Philp, former commanding officer of the Centennaires and base commander of Canadian Forces Base Moose Jaw (now 15 Wing Moose Jaw), established the original Snowbirds team in 1971. It was comprised of volunteer instructor pilots from the Canadian Forces Flying Training School in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. They flew seven ex-Centennaire Tutor aircraft, practising in the evenings and performing on weekends.” 

Source: Snowbirds – Behind The Scenes With Canada’s Air Demonstration Team – Photographs And Text By Mike Sroka – Page 23

Question: What was the connection between Rockcliffe and W/C William Barker, VC, the famous WW1 fighter ace?

Answer: “On a tragic note, W/C William Barker, VC, the famous WWI fighter ace, was killed at Rockcliffe on March 12th 1930, when he crashed onto the frozen Ottawa River after stalling his Fairchild KR-21 during a demonstration flight.”

Source: Airforce – The Magazine of Canada’s Air Force Heritage – Volume 28 No. 3 - Fall 2004

The Canadian Aviation Moments were submitted by Dennis Casper from the Roland Groome (Regina) Chapter of the CAHS.

The Canadian Aviation Moments questions for December are:

Question: What RAF bomber was Calgarian Charles Patterson, a WWII pilot, referring to when he observed: “I’d never seen such a dreadful boring-looking thing, nose-down, going at what looked like about fifty mph.”

Source: No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945 – Page 22

Question: When did the Canadian Government, prior to World War II, take the situation in Europe seriously in regards to appropriation of funds for defence spending? Of the planned, in 1939, eleven permanent and twelve auxiliary squadrons, how many were planned to reinforce the RAF in need? What were the most cutting edge bombers and fighters the RCAF had in the service inventory at the commencement of WWII hostilities?

Source: No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945 – David L. Bashow – Pages 19-20

Question: Who devised the name “Snowbirds” for Canada’s formation team? What year did the Snowbirds first appear, and where was their first appearance? How many shows did they do in the first year, and what was the public’s reaction?

Source: Snowbirds –Behind The Scenes With Canada’s Air Demonstration Team – By Mike Sroka – Page 23


Essex Memorial Spitfire in honour of Gerald “Jerry” Billing, legendary Spitfire pilot, a tribute to RCAF/RAF veterans from Essex and Windsor

Photos and story by Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice-President

1 Full scale replica Spitfire IX YOD ML135 401 Sqdn mounted in honour of Jerry Billing at Essex Photo taken Oct 3 2015 G McNulty

Jerry Billing 300In January, 2015, Canada lost an outstanding pilot, well known for exceptional air show performances in the Spitfire, with the death of Gerald “Jerry” Billing at a health care centre in South Woodslee, near Essex, ON, at age 93. The Essex Memorial Spitfire in honour of Jerry, a full-scale fibreglass replica of the Spitfire Mark IX that he flew over Normandy on D-Day, is a fitting tribute to Second World War air force veterans from the Essex and Windsor area.

2 Full scale replica Spitfire IX YOD ML135 401 Sqdn mounted in honour of Jerry Billing at Essex Photo taken Oct 3 2015 G McNulty

A committee of fundraisers received many donations for the memorial, which includes a black granite Honour Wall beside the replica with the names of about 1,500 air force veterans etched in stone. The replica is identical to the RCAF 401 Squadron Spitfire YO-D ML135, with D-Day invasion stripes, that Billing flew. Built in England by GB Replicas, the replica was shipped to Montreal, where the cargo container was put on a train to Brampton. Chrysler Canada generously delivered it from there by truck to Essex, where it was assembled in the old Essex Memorial Arena. The replica was dedicated in a ceremony at Heritage Gardens near the historic Essex Train Station before a large crowd in September, 2014. Billing was unable to attend the event, but he watched it live over Skype. A few days later he was able to see and enjoy it as paramedics took him to the site.

3 Essex Memorial Spitfire in honour of Jerry Billing Oct 3 2015 G McNulty

The idea for the project originated after a mural dedicated to Billing, painted on the wall of a Canadian Tire store in Essex, was destroyed when the building was torn down. Bob Swaddling, Spitfire historian and longtime friend of the Billing family, urged Essex Town Council to go a step beyond replacing the mural and put up a Spitfire replica instead. The fundraising committee sprang into action and the rest is history. The replica was originally estimated to cost about $200,000 but that was reduced to around $143,000 with people donating various services. In May, 2015, the Honour Wall was dedicated before another large crowd.

4 Essex Memorial Spitfire full scale replica of Spitfire IX YOD ML135 401 Sqdn flown by Jerry Billing over Normandy D Day Oct 3 2015 G McNulty

In October, my wife and I were in the nearby Leamington area, and we were impressed by the memorial. An approaching storm at the time ruled out a blue sky for optimum pictures, but at least it didn’t rain. Photos are attached, including images of the funeral home card for Jerry that was kindly mailed to me by his wife, Karen. I met Jerry while I was a reporter at the Windsor Star in the early ‘70s. He was also a friend of my father, Jack, and my younger brother, Jim, who also became a reporter at the Windsor Star after I joined the Hamilton Spectator.

Billing served with the RCAF and RAF for 25 years, flying more than 250 sorties during two tours of duty in the Second World War. He survived five months of intense air battles in the skies above Malta in the winter of 1942-43, flying Spitfires with #19 Squadron RAF. He was shot down twice by Bf-109s. In 1944 Jerry joined 401 Squadron RCAF, where he saw combat over France. He was downed by flak after D-Day and forced to crash-land in no-man’s land, where he was helped by a French family until he was picked up by the Americans.

In 1947 Billing became chief flying instructor at the Windsor Flying Club. He re-enlisted in the RCAF in 1948, based at Trenton as a pilot instructor. He flew the B-25 Mitchell, Lancaster, P-51 Mustang, Vampire, the T-33 Silver Star and the F-86 Sabre. In 1954, Jerry went to the UK as an exchange officer in a fighter development squadron. He returned to Canada in 1956, flying air shows in the Sabre and training Golden Hawk pilots. He left the RCAF in 1964 to become a test pilot for de Havilland Canada, where he delivered Caribou aircraft to Vietnam that were flown in covert CIA operations.

Billing began many graceful and precise performances in the Spitfire in the early 1970s, when he trained Don Plumb of Windsor to fly Don’s dual-seat Spitfire IX trainer, CF-RAF/TE308. Billing was then contacted by Bill Ross of Chicago to fly actor Cliff Robertson’s Spitfire IX, N921R/MK923. He thoroughly enjoyed performing in the Spit for 22 years. Billing amassed 52½ years on the Spitfire, and received a thank-you letter from the Queen in 1984, before retiring from flying the famous fighter in 1996 at age 75. He continued to fly an Aeronca Champ from a private strip that he had for more than 40 years. Billing was knighted by France and made an honorary French citizen.

Gerald Jerry Billing

A funeral for Jerry was held in Essex on 9 January, 2015. He is survived by his wife Karen, four sons and six grandchildren. In his book A Knave Among Knights In Their Spitfires, Jerry wrote about his passion for the Spitfire. In his words, “I would not give 20 minutes flying aerobatics in a Spitfire for 10,000 hours flying on an airliner.”

More information is available by Googling the Essex Memorial Spitfire Committee.


The CAHS Needs Your Financial Support:

donate cahsThe CAHS is working hard to end the year with a balanced budget and would appreciate your help financially. Donations are greatly appreciated and can be made online through Paypal or can be mailed in by downloading and mailing this form.

Did you know that Canada Revenue Agency is offering a first time donors' super credit? If you or your spouse have not claimed a charitable tax credit after the year 2007, CRA is offering an incentive to give to charities by supplementing the value of the charitable donation tax credit by 25% for first time donors. If you have never made a charitable donation before to any charity, why not take advantage of the extra tax credit offer this year by donating to the CAHS' great cause? For more details, see CRA's website.

Do you have past or current business contacts from within aviation/aerospace industries? Have you ever thought of approaching these contacts about becoming a corporate sponsor of the CAHS? Managers of corporations are more likely to be interested if people they already know professionally make the suggestion and explain how sponsorship helps both the company (by providing exposure and a donation tax receipt) and the mandate of the CAHS (by covering costs of publishing aviation history in the Journal and on the website). Please download the Corporate Membership form and talk to your contacts about helping the CAHS preserve and disseminate Canada's aviation history.